“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
"..... also, please share some sort of gyaan on how to learn to say No, coz I know it's important for me to learn this but it almost seems impossible for me". said this bright ex-colleague of mine after reading my blog #MindYourBusyness (if you haven't read it yet, please do). I promised her that I'll sure try and share my perspective on this from what I have experienced or practiced.
To be honest, until a few years ago I too suffered from this. It used to take me a lot of effort to say no to things at work. It was still better in my personal life. May be I compensated there :D
I used to take up extra work, because I always thought that people reach out to you because you add value. Caveat: Not always true. While in most cases I still feel that people will come to you because you add value, it is important to realise that for every Yes to an unimportant thing you are saying No to an important thing.
I remember this scene from F.R.I.E.N.D.S where Ross is moving to his new house post his divorce and asks his friends if they want to help him set his house. While Chandler and Joey agree to help him out, I love how Phoebe responds "I wish I could but I don't want to". Woah! That's saying No like a boss. But, not everyone can have Phoebe's attitude in life (I wish I had the courage to have that attitude). But it is important to realise that we are trading our time for something which we don't want to and that's injustice to the time we have got.
As humans we are wired like that. To chose an easier path. Prioritise avoidance of short term pain for long term gain. Not hurting feelings. Want to be liked.
I have said Yes and taken up many unimportant things and prioritised those over important things for the above reasons. But, have realised that whenever I have said No, I have gained on many fronts to name a few:
- got time to do what I wanted
- peace of mind from not having too many things on my plate (mostly unimportant)
- joy of missing out
So let me flip it and tell you things that I say Yes to:
- If it aligns with my purpose, my Ikigai - do and learn something new or different
- Gives me a chance to help people
- If I know I can add real value to the job and which will give me a kick
- Asked by people for whom I can fight wars
Being sure of the WHY.
Anything that falls outside of this, I generally say No. "Focussing is about saying No" - Steve Jobs. It's not about less, its about doing more of what you want to do.
But remember, it takes practice to do that. Some tips:
- Be genuine in hearing out what help they need from you
- Don't start with a No. Understand what is required from you (unless of course you don't like the person, in that case it is your personal call)
- Evaluate sincerely why you can't or shouldn't do it
- Be respectful and explain why you can't
- Make peace with your decision
Takes courage and humility to say No.
When saying No, remember that:
- Communication is Key
- Take your time, don't have to answer it instantly if you aren't sure
- You are trading part of your life. Value Yourself
Learning to say No to unimportant things is one of the most important gift you can give yourself - helps save time, energy and emotions.
Most of life's troubles can be attributed to saying Yes too soon and not saying No soon enough. Be like Phoebe.
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